Golf News for Wednesday, August 27, 2008 | Daily Golf Blogs

Chris Baldwin: LPGA's must-speak-English policy reeks of racism

Just when you didn't think the LPGA could make any news (except for killing off long-time tournaments), the worst-run organization in professional sports is at it again, making speaking English a requirement for holding a Tour card starting next season.

The LPGA apparently feels too many South Koreans are winning - clearly targeting them with a rule that makes absolutely no sense for a Tour that has long claimed it's building its brand globally (or at least used that as the excuse for all its problems stateside) under Carolyn Bivens.

Is this the Ladies Professional Golf Association or Paranoid Americans Are Us?

The LPGA's a sports league. Or at least it claims to be. What does speaking English have to do with your ability to hit a golf ball? In all the moves made under Bivens that have crippled any chances of future LPGA growth, this may be the very worst of all. It represents such minor-league, petty thinking.

Can you imagine Major League Baseball or the NBA ever coming up with a rule like this for its foreign-born players? Of course not. Ichiro still mostly only talks through a translator even though everyone in Seattle knows he can speak perfect English. Yao Ming only recently ditched using his translator in most U.S. press conferences - after having been an all-star for years. Not speaking more English sooner on the public stage really crippled Yao's popularity in the states, huh?

The LPGA's new rule, which actually puts in the possibility of a suspension punishment if any LPGA player who has held a Tour card for two years cannot pass an oral English exam, is not just amazingly offensive. And racist.

It reeks of complete desperation for a Tour that's seeing itself all but completely fall off the sports map under Bivens.

You might argue that two years is plenty of time to learn English, but why should a golfer be forced to do something that has nothing to do with the sport to continue playing it? This is all too typical of a commissioner who tries to lord over every little thing as a Putin-like tyrant while completely missing out on the big picture. Most of the LPGA's South Korean golfers already do their best to grasp the new language and speak it in press conferences.

It's a completely unnecessary rule.

The fact that a few South Korean winners are using translators in press conferences is not what's holding the LPGA back. Having almost no reporters attend those press conferences - in part because Bivens works to keep out writers she feels are too critical, which showcases her micromanaging panic yet again - is much more damaging to the LPGA.

The Bivens team is desperate. So it came up with an almost unfathomable, offensive rule.

How low can you go?

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